Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote of the Day

Excerpted from Pope Benedict XVI's address on the Apostle Thomas:

... [At the Last Supper,] Jesus, predicting his imminent departure, announces that he will go to prepare a place for the disciples so that they will also be where he is; and he specifies: "And you know the way where I am going" (John 14:4). Then Thomas intervenes, saying: "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" (John 14:5).

In reality, with these words he places himself in a rather low level of understanding, but [his words] offer Jesus the opportunity to utter the famous definition: "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). Therefore, in the first instance, he makes this revelation to Thomas, but it is valid for all of us and for all times. Every time we hear or read these words, we can be in thought next to Thomas and imagine that the Lord also speaks with us as he spoke with him.

At the same time, his question also gives us the right, so to speak, to ask Jesus for explanations. We often do not understand him. We must have the courage to say to him: I do not understand you, Lord, hear me, help me to understand. In this way, with such frankness, which is the authentic way to pray, to converse with Jesus, we express the littleness of our capacity to understand, but at the same time we assume the attitude of trust of one who expects light and strength from the one able to give them.

Then, very well known, even proverbial, is the scene of Thomas' incredulity, which took place eight days after Easter. Initially, he did not believe that Jesus had appeared in his absence and had said: "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25). Deep down, from these words emerges the conviction that Jesus is no longer recognized by his face, but rather by the wounds. Thomas believes that the characteristic signs of Jesus' identity are now above all his wounds, in which is revealed to what point he has loved us. In this the apostle is not mistaken.

As we know, eight days later, Jesus again appears to his disciples and on this occasion Thomas is present. And Jesus says to him: "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).

Thomas reacts with the most splendid profession of faith of the New Testament: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). In this connection, St. Augustine comments: Thomas "saw and touched the man, but confessed his faith in God, whom he did not see or touch. But what he saw and touched led him to believe that which until then he had doubted" ("In Iohann" 121, 5). The evangelist continues with one last phrase of Jesus addressed to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe" (John 20:29). ...

... The case of the Apostle Thomas is important for us at least for three reasons: first, because it consoles us in our insecurities; second, because it shows us that every doubt can have a luminous end beyond any uncertainty; and, finally, because the words that Jesus addressed to him remind us of the authentic meaning of mature faith and encourages us to continue, despite the difficulties, on the path of fidelity to Him. ...